Thulia Kali Vs. The State of Tamil
Nadu  INSC 64 (25 February 1972)
KHANNA, HANS RAJ KHANNA, HANS RAJ MITTER,
CITATION: 1973 AIR 501 1972 SCR (3) 622 1972
SCC (3) 393
D 1983 SC1081 (18)
Criminal Trial--First Information Report--Unexplained
delay in the lodging of First information Report--Inference.
Constitution of India, 1950--Article
136--Interference--if evidence afflicted with ex--facie infirmity,.
This Court does not normally reappraise
evidence in an appeal under article 136 of the Constitution but that fact would
not prevent interference with an order of conviction, if, on consideration of
the vital prosecution evidence in the case the Court finds it to be afflicted
with ex-facie infirmity.
The appellant was sentenced to death under s.
302 Indian Penal Code. The trial Court and the High Court based the conviction
of the appellant primarily upon the testimony of two witnesses one of whom
according to the prosecution case was present when the accused made murderous
assault on the deceased and the other arrived soon after. Neither of them nor
anyone else who was told about the occurrence by the two witnesses made any
report at the police station for more than 20 hours after the occurrence even
though the police station was only two miles from the place of occurrence.
Setting aside the conviction,
HELD : That the delay in lodging the report
would raise considerable doubt regarding the varacity of the evidence of two
witnesses and point to an infirmity in that evidence and would render it unsafe
to base the conviction of the appellant.
The first information report in a criminal
case is an extremely vital and valuable piece of evidence for the purpose of
corroborating the oral evidence adduced a' the trial The object of insisting
upon prompt lodging of the report to the police in respect of commission of an
offence is to obtain early information regarding the circumstances in which the
crime was committed, the names of the actual culprits and the part played by
them as well as, the names of eye witnesses present at there scene of
Delay in lodging the first information report
quite often results in embellishment which is a Creature of afterthought. It is
therefore essential that the delay in lodging the report should be
satisfactorily explained. [626 H]
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No. 165 of 1971.
Appeal by special leave from the _judgment
and order dated November 24, 1970 of the Madras High Court in Criminal Appeal
No. 761 of 1970 and Referred Trial No. 50, of 1970.
S. Lakshminarasu, for the appellant.
A. V. Rangam, for the respondent.
623 The Judgment of the Court was delivered
by Khanna, J. Thulia Kali (26) was convicted by Sessions Judge Salem under
section 302 Indian Penal Code for causing the death of Madhandi Pidariammal
(40) and under section 379 Indian Penal Code for committing theft of the
ornaments of Madhandi deceased. The accused was sentenced to death on the
former count. No separate sentence was awarded for the offence under section
379 Indian Penal Code. The High Court of Madras affirmed the conviction and.
sentence of the accused. The accused has now come up in appeal to, this Court
by special leave.
The prosecution case was that Madhandi
deceased purchased land measuring 1 acre 62 cents from Thooliya Thiruman (PW
5), elder brother of the accused for rupees one, thousand.
The land of the accused adjoined the land
sold to Madhandi deceased. The accused wanted Madhandi deceased to sell that
land to him but the deceased declined to do so. Madhandi constructed a fence
around the land purchased by her, as a result of which the passage to the land
of the accused was obstructed. About a week before the present occurrence, the
accused removed some jack fruits from the land purchased by the deceased.
Complaint about that was made by the deceased to the Panchayatdars. The
Panchayatdars considered the matter, but the accused declined to abide by the
decision of the Panchyatdars.
On March 12, 1970 at about 12 noon, it is
stated, Madhandi deceased left her house situated in village Sakkarapatti along
with her daughter-in-law Kopia Chinthamani (PW 2), aged 10, for Valaparathi at
a distance of about two miles from the village for grazing cattle. Shortly
thereafter, Valanjiaraju (PW 1), stepson of Madhandi deceased, also went to
Valaparathi and started cutting plants at a distance of about 250 feet from the
place where the deceased was grazing the cattle. At about 2 p.m. the accused
came to the place where Madhandi deceased was present and asked her whether she
would give him the right of passage or not. The deceased replied in the
negative. The accused then took out knife Ex. 1 and gave a number of knife
blows, to the deceased in spite of her entreaties to the accused not to stab
her and that she would give him what he wanted. Kopia PW raised alarm and ran
from the place of occurrence. She met Valanjiaraju PW and told him that the
accused was giving knife blows to Madhandi. Accompanied by Kopia, Valanjiaraju
then went towards the accused but he threatened them with knife. Valanjiaraju
and Kopia thereupon went to the village and informed the husband of the
deceased as well as a number of other villagers including Aneeba (PW 3) and
Selvaraj (PW 4). Valanjiaraju and a large 624 number of other villagers then
went to the place of occurrence A and found the dead body of Madhandi deceased
lying there with injuries on her throat, face and other parts of the body. Both
her ears were found to have been chopped off. Her jewels had been removed.
According further to the prosecution,
Valanjiaraju went to B the house of village munsif Muthuswami (PW 8) to inform
him about the occurrence. Muthuswami, however, was-away from the house to
another village in connection with some collection work. Muthuswami returned at
about 10.30 p.m.
and was told by Valanjiaraju about the
Muthuswami did not record the statement of
Valanjiaraju at that time and told him that be would not go to the spot where
the dead body was lying on that night as wild animals would be roaming there
and that he would go there on the following morning' Muthuswami went to the
spot where the dead body of the deceased was lying at about 8.30 a.m. on the
following day, that is, March 13, 1970 and had a look at the dead body of the
deceased. Statement P. I of Valanjiaraju was recorded by Muthuswami at 9. a.m.
at the spot. The statement was then sent by Muthuswami to police station
Valavanthi at a distance of about two miles from the place of occurrence.
Formal first information report P. 15 on the basis of statement P. I was
prepared at the police station at 11.45 a.m.
Head Constable Rajamanickam after recording
first informa- tion report, went to the place of occurrence and reached there
at 2.30 p.m. Inspector Rajagopal (PW 13), on hearing about the occurrence at
the bus stand, also went to the place of occurrence. Inquest report relating to
the dead body of the deceased was then prepared. Dr. Sajid Pasha (PW 7) was
thereafter sent for from Sendamangalam. Dr. Pasha arrived at the place of occurrence
at 12.30 p.m. on March 14, 1970 and performed post mortem examination on the
dead body of Madhandi deceased.
Inspector Rajagopal arrested the accused,
according to the prosecution, at 5 a.m. on March 15, 1970 in a reserve forest
about one mile from Seppangulam. The accused then stated that he had kept
ornaments and knife in the house of Chakravarthi (PW 9) and would get the same
recovered. The Inspector then went with accused to the house of Chakravarthi PW
and from there recovered knife Ex. 1 and ornaments Exs. 2 to 8. The said
ornaments belonged to Madhandi deceased. The knife was taken into possession
and put into a, sealed parcel. The clothes which the accused was wearing were
got removed and put into a sealed parcel.
The parcels were sent to Chemical Examiner,
whose report showed that neither the knife nor the clothes of the accused were
stained with blood.
625 At the trial the plea of the accused was
denial simpliciter According to the accused, the villagers came to know on the
evening of March 12, 1470 that the deceased had been murdered. The accused
along with the villagers went to the spot where the dead body of the deceased
was lying and stayed with them there during the night. On the following day,
the accused was suspected by the villagers. They gave him beating and tied him
to; A tree. Later on that day, that is, March 13, 1970, the accused was taken
to the police station and kept there for two days. The accused denied having
committed the murder of the deceased or having got recovered the ornaments and
the knife. No evidence was produced in defence.
The learned Sessions Judge in convicting the
accused relied upon the evidence of Kopia (PW 2), who had given eye witness
account of the occurrence, as well as the statement of Valanjiaraju (PW 1), who
had been threatened by the accused with knife near the place of occurrence.
Reliance was also placed upon the recovery of knife and ornaments in pursuance
of the statement of the accused. The High Court agreed with the Sessions Judge
and affirmed the conviction of the accused.There can be no doubt that Madhandi
deceased was the victim of a 'brutal attack. Dr. Sajid Pasha, who performed
post mortem examination on the dead body of Madhandi, found as many as 29
injuries on the body. Out of them, 24 were incised wounds and five were
multiple abrasions. There were a number of incised wounds on the face, neck,
chest and abdomen. The pinnas of the right and left ears had been completely
severed.Injuries were also found in the eyes and laryngeal region. Death was
the result of different injuries, some of which were individually sufficient to
cause death. The case of the prosecution was that it was the accused-appellant
who had caused the injuries to,Madhandi deceased. The accused has, however,
denied this allegation and has claimed that he has been falsely involved in
this case on suspicion.
The trial court and the High Court have based
the conviction of the accused-appellant, as stated earlier, primarily upon the
testimony of Kopia (PW 2) and Valanjiaraju (PW 1). This Court does not normally
reappraise evidence in an appeal under article 136 of the Constitution, but
that fact would not prevent interference with an order of conviction if on
consideration of the vital prosecution evidence in the case, this Court finds
it to be afflicted with ex facie infirmity.
There are in' the present case certain broad
features of the prosecution story which create considerable doubt regarding the
veracity of the aforesaid evidence, and. in our opinion, it would not be safe
to maintain the conviction 626 on the basis of that evidence. According to
Kopia (PW 2), .the accused stabbed the deceased at about 2 p.m. Kopia raised
alarm and immediately informed Valanjiaraju, who was cutting plants at a
distance of about 250 feet from the place of occurrence. Valanjiaraju and Kopia
then, came towards the place where the accused had assaulted the deceased, but
the accused threatened them with knife.
Valanjiaraju and Kopia thereupon went to the
village abadi and informed the other villagers. Valanjiaraju accompanied by
other villagers then went to the place of occurrence and found the dead body of
Madhandi lying there with a number of injuries.
According to document P. I Valanjiaraju made
statement .about the occurrence to village munsif Muthuswami (PW 8) at about 9
a.m. on March 13, 1970. Formal first information report on the basis of the
above statement was prepared at the police station at 11.45 a.m. The delay in
lodging the report, according to the prosecution, was due to the fact that Muthuswami
PW was away to another village in connection with some collection work and he
returned to his house at 10. 30 p.m. Muthuswami told Valanjiaraju when the
latter met him at night that he would record the satement only after having a
look at the dead body on the following morning.
It is in the evidence of Valanjiaraju that
the house of Muthuswami is at a distance of three furlongs from the village of
Valanjiaraju. Police station Valavanthi is also at a distance of three furlongs
from the house of Muthuswami. Assuming that Muthuswami PW was not found at his
house till 10.30 p.m. on March 12, 1970 by Valanjiaraju, it is, not clear as to
why no report was lodged by Valanjiaraju at the police station. It is, in our
opinion, most difficult to believe that even though the accused had been seen
at 2 p.m. committing the murder of Madhandi deceased and a large number of
villagers had been told about it soon thereafter, no report about the
occurrence could be lodged till the following day. The police station was less
than two miles from the village of Valanjiaraju and Kopia and their failure to
make a report to the police till the following day would tend to show that none
of them had witnessed the occurrence. It seems likely, as has been stated on
behalf of the accused, that the villagers came, to know of the death of
Madhandi deceased on the evening of March 12, 1970. They did not then know
about the actual assailant of the deceased, and on the following day, their
suspicion fell on the accused and accordingly they involved him in this case.
First information report in a criminal case is an extremely vital and valuable
piece of evidence for the purpose of corroborating the oral evidence adduced at
the trial. The importance of the above report can hardly be overestimated from
the 627 standpoint of the accused: The object of insisting upon prompt lodging
of the report to the police in respect of commission of an offence is to obtain
early information regarding the circumstances in which the crime was committed,
the names of the actual culprits and the part played by them as well as names
of eye witnesses present at the scene of occurrence. Delay in lodging the first
in- formation report quite often results in embellishment which is a creature
of afterthought. On account of delay, the report not only gets bereft of the
advantage of spontaneity, danger creeps in of the introduction of coloured
version, exaggerated account or concocted story As a result of deliberation and
consultation. It is, therefore, essential that the delay in the lodging of the
first information report should be satisfactorily explained. In the present
case, Kopia, daughter-in-law of Madhandi deceased, according to the prosecution
case, was present when the accused made murderous assault on the deceased.
Valanjiaraju, stepson of the deceased, is also alleged to have arrived near the
scene of occurrence on being told by Kopia. Neither of them, nor any other
villager, who is stated to have been told about the occurrence by Valanjiaraju
and Kopia, made any report at the police station for more than 20 hours after
the occurrence, even though the police station is only two miles from the place
of occurrence. The said circumstance, in our opinion, would raise considerable
doubt regarding the veracity of the evidence of those two witnesses and point
to an infirmity in that evidence as would render it unsafe to base the
conviction of the accused-appellant upon it.
As regards the alleged recovery of knife and
ornaments at the instance of the accused, we find that the evidence consists of
statements of Inspector Rajagopal (PW 13), Kati Goundar (PW 6) and Chakravarthi
(PW 9). According to Chakravarthi (PW 9), the accused handed over the ornaments
in question to the witness when the accused came to the house of the witness on
the evening of March 12, 1970 and passed the night at the house. The witness
also found knife in the bed of the accused after he had left on the following
day. According, however, to Kali Goundar (PW 6), the accused, on interrogation
by the Inspector of Police, stated that he had entrusted the ornaments to
Thangam, wife of Chakravarthi (PW 9). Apart from the discrepancy on the point
as to whom was the person with whom the accused had kept the ornaments, we find
that Thangam, with whom the accused, according to Kali Goundar PW had kept the
ornaments, has not been examined as a witness. In view-of the above statement
of Kali Goundar, it was, in our opinion, essential for the prosecution to
examine Thangam as a witness and its failure to do so would make the Court draw
an inference against the prosecution.
628 Ex. 1 in his bed in the house of
Chakravarthi (PW 9) when he had ample opportunity to throw away the knife in
some lonely place before arriving at the house of Chakravarthi. The knife in
question was found by Chemical Examiner to be not stained with blood and
according to the prosecution case, the accused had washed it before leaving it
in the bed in the house of Chakravarthi. If the accused realised the importance
of doing away with the blood stains on the knife, it does not seem likely that
he would bring that knife' to the house of Chakravarthi and leave it in the
Looking to all the circumstances, we are of
the view that it is not possible to sustain the conviction of the accused on
the evidence adduced. We accordingly accept the appeal, set aside the
conviction of the accused-appellant and acquit him.
K.B.N. Appeal allowed.